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Patriots' Samuel wants to stay

Email|Print| Text size + By Pat Bigold
Globe Correspondent / February 8, 2008

HONOLULU - Asante Samuel said "it's gonna take a lot" to keep him a Patriot.

But the 27-year-old unrestricted free agent cornerback, who has spent his five-year career in New England, added that on a scale of 1 to 10, he'd probably rate his chances of coming back a 10.

"The fans love me and I love them back," he said. "The organization loves me and, hopefully, we can work it out."

Samuel had six interceptions during the regular season and has 22 in his career. He's returned three for touchdowns.

"It's gonna take a lot to make me happy and my family happy," said the first-time Pro Bowler after an AFC practice session at Kapolei High Wednesday. Samuel is one of six Patriots who will play in the all-star game Sunday at Aloha Stadium.

Asked how much he thinks he's worth, Samuel threw the question back at his interviewer: "You take a guess and see if you can hit it. It's no secret I'm looking for a big, huge, blockbuster deal."

Samuel's agent, Alonzo Shavers, is also in Hawaii and said he won't begin talking with the Patriots until after the Pro Bowl.

Samuel, who made $7.79 million this season after being designated the team's franchise player and sitting out most of training camp, was the last Patriot to arrive in Hawaii. He flew in late Tuesday.

"I was just relaxing in Phoenix and getting squared away," he said.

Samuel had a chance to stop the Giants' winning drive in Sunday's Super Bowl when he got his hands on an errant pass by Eli Manning with 1:15 left.

The missed opportunity haunts him.

"I could have made the play and ended the game," he said. "I didn't see the replay yet, but I know it hit my fingertips. But the kind of player I want myself to be, I believe I should have had it."

If he had it to do over, "I think I would have jumped a little higher so it would have gone in the palm of my hand rather than my fingertips," Samuel said. "I probably misjudged it a little bit."

Asked if the Patriots' game plan was flawed in their 17-14 loss, Samuel was adamant.

"No, we basically just broke down and didn't make plays," he said. "I'm never gonna criticize my coaches about things you guys may have thought they did wrong. I thought it was a perfect game plan but we just didn't make the plays."

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